Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
It does not seem like the Advent season. There are some holes in our schedule that have made us feel like Advent should be months away. We missed spring and its various celebrations, like graduations and Confirmations, and summer, with those picnics, parish fests and outdoor concerts. Likewise, the fall, with Halloween and Thanksgiving, was stunted, to say the least. Many of us may have experienced what is referred to as the disruption of our circadian rhythm, which is our body’s natural internal sleep/wake functions. This disruption has caused us to feel like night is day and day is night.
Perhaps we are experiencing a social circadian rhythm disruption where nothing appears to be as it was experienced in the past. We would like to stop everything and wait for all things to return to normal. However, time moves on whether we like it or not. We often like to convince ourselves that we have mastery over our lives and that we control each moment. The recent pandemic has disturbed our lives, and the best-laid plans of mice and men actually go astray. Time marches on whether we are prepared or not.
This Sunday’s Gospel from St. Mark tells us to watch. The movement of God is all around us, but we often fail to acknowledge His presence. We need to assess our relationship with God during this Advent season. Often times, we cannot choose our challenges, but we can choose our responses. This Advent, we can choose to be intentionally for Christ. One constant that surpasses time itself is our relationship with Jesus. When assessing our relationship with the Son of God, we focus on the sacrificial act of God’s love for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
If we begin with the fact that God loves us, it sets the tone for all of our actions during the Advent season. We know that whatever challenges confront us, God is with us – Emmanuel. I have used this mantra throughout the tension created by the pandemic and the social unrest: “I trust in God, I trust in His Word.” I say this over and over again, slowly, so it synchronizes with my breathing. It produces calmness and reminds me that I must place everything and everyone in God’s hands. “One thing, I ask of the Lord, this I seek: To dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life.” (Psalm 27:4)
Jesus is coming like the master of the house and, as his servants, we must prepare for His coming. Therefore, let us clean our environment and confess our sins to receive God’s grace and mercy. Let us take the time in prayer to reflect on the privilege of serving God and living in the spirit of thanksgiving for our relationship. Let us receive Jesus in the Eucharist and be joined to the Lord who freely gives His life so that we might have life forever.
During Advent, as we prepare to receive His love at Christmas, we especially trust in God and in His word to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the December 1, 2020, "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.